Vying for record expansion, Oporto says they are building a “portfolio for the future” | QSR Media

Vying for record expansion, Oporto says they are building a “portfolio for the future”

CEO Samantha Bragg shares her take on how to make the brand even more accessible, and where she believes lies the next area of competition for the chicken segment.

After seven strong years of strong same store growth, Oporto is vying for record store expansion as it aims to build what its CEO coins as a “portfolio for the future.”

In an exclusive interview with QSR Media, Samantha Bragg revealed an upgraded strategy of opening over 20 restaurants, mainly drive-thrus and shopfront formats, per year over the next few years — eyeing VIC, QLD and regional areas of NSW. Their second store in the Gulf Cooperation Council is also set to open soon.

“We've really been working on developing what I call a portfolio for the future. That really allows us to adapt our store offer, continue to innovate our footprint, and ensure that we're able to put the brand where we know our customers would really enjoy it. Drive-thru remains incredibly important for us as a format, but there's definitely other opportunities there,” she said.

Said portfolio, Bragg elaborated, meant looking at their existing stores and checking how they can essentially complement their existing customer experience with data and technology to provide more personalized experiences.

“It will include a lot of development across our app, across our website, in terms of our audit processes, no matter what format it is, and starting to really invest and accelerate our capability in that space,” she said.

“It absolutely allows us to drive frequency, but it also allows us to have better relationships with our customers as well and make sure we're serving them content that is relevant.”

It is also looking at new, smaller formats where they can provide a slightly differentiated proposition.

“Drive-thru’s are certainly our top priority but often have a longer process and timeframe to open. While we continue to seek great sites we equally see opportunities across multiple formats,” she said. 

The chain, which currently stands at 182 stores, expects to open “close to” 10 stores this year, citing the need to focus on efficiencies during the height of the pandemic in the country.

Drive-thru still strong despite rising fuel costs
Despite rising fuel prices possibly deterring the appeal of drive-thru, Bragg believes the channel retains a strong position and the brand being able to minimize costs by adopting pricing strategies.

“We've been able to really work on our pricing strategies to minimize the impact [of rising gas prices] on our customers and our franchise partners. There's definitely headwinds that are going to remain from a cost perspective, but we're absolutely working on that on a day to day basis,” she said.

Bragg, who has been the chief executive for the brand for a year, said she enjoyed expanding her capabilities after a two-year stint as their marketing head.

She also credited “great, long-term relationships” with suppliers to avoid any major supply chain disruptions but admitted staffing was challenging for their franchise network.

“There's been little things to address here and there but we've been able to keep our core items on all the time,” she said. “It's been exhausting for our franchise partners. But again, I think we're starting to see the light in that tunnel a little bit.”

They also needed to ensure they provided the necessary support for franchisees situated in food courts, such as marketing initiatives and investments to drive traffic.

“It's great now to see our food courts certainly recovering.”

Better-for-you as next chicken segment battleground
Expecting it to be the next battleground for the chicken segment, Oporto is innovating in the better-for-you space.

“That's a trend that's happening from an external perspective, but it's something that we've been seeing in the brand for some time that we can absolutely continue to leverage. We'll continue to have some indulgent offers as well. But the trend for us is definitely in that better-for-you food,” she said.

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